Do you ever try to plan something to the letter, only to find that something unexpected happens and throws everything up in the air? Whether it’s work plans or plans we make in our personal lives, life has a funny way of scuppering our best intentions.
When things in life are going our way, it feels good, but when something happens to derail us, we can feel all sorts of emotions, from disappointment, to frustration, anger, anxiety, and overwhelm.
The reason for this is our need to control situations and their outcome, especially if the situation stirs up negative feelings like anxiety and fear. But control is an illusion, the only thing you can really be in control of is your own reaction to a situation, and the action you take as a result.
The importance of awareness
When you find yourself in an unexpected difficult situation, it’s important to take a moment and give yourself some breathing space before you make a decision about what you’re going to do next. Be aware of how you feel. Do you feel sad, angry, or frustrated? Acknowledge this. You might have felt these feelings so often that you’ve forgotten what they truly feel like. Allow yourself to just be with your feelings and to see them for what they are, even though this may be uncomfortable. This awareness gives you some much-needed space and being mindful grounds you in the present moment when you start thinking about things that have happened in the past, or trying to control a situation that may or may not happen in the future. It can also help to ask yourself these questions:
What is it that I believe when I’m feeling like this?
Is this belief true?
What would my life be like if I didn’t have this belief?
Taking inspired action
Awareness and mindfulness are about what is present in each moment, and from a place of being aware and mindful, it is more likely that we’ll take inspired action. Inspired action is action we take when we’re choosing what our actions are inspired by. Every action we take is inspired by something, whether it’s habit, compassion, greed, or desire. Being aware and mindful helps you to make conscious choices about what inspires your actions. It might be that you mindfully decide to let go of a habit that no longer works for you, or you give up rushing through your life at 100mph and slow down and smell the flowers, either way, being truly aware can transform your life.
Inspired action feels good, but it’s not always comfortable
You might have to follow a course of action and simply trust that it’s right, and fight your mind’s desire to plan and control every aspect of what happens along the way. It’s not easy, but when your actions come from a place of deeper awareness and knowing, they are more aligned with who you really are, and you get to experience the true peace that comes with that.
Maureen O’Callaghan is a Member of the Chartered Management Institute and has an MSc in Mindfulness-Based Approaches. She works with organisations, teams, and individuals to create less stressful working environments, improve team working, enhance performance and productivity and develop leadership and management skills. For more information visit www.mocallaghan.co.uk or e mail firstname.lastname@example.org